How do you deal with anger at things you can't control?
September 28, 2004 12:43 PM   Subscribe

How do you deal with anger at things you can't control? (The things are out of your control, hopefully the anger isn't...)

I mean, besides writing unsent poems like "Roses are red/ Violets are blue/ You suck as a friend/ And I'm done with you"?
posted by bendy to Human Relations (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I accept that I am only responsible for my own actions. Once you get over that hurdle (and for some people, it's a doozy), life is much gooder. Here's a manual.
posted by dobbs at 1:05 PM on September 28, 2004 [1 favorite]

writing unsent poems
but that's exactly it - or, at least, the modern equivalent, which is ranting on a blog.

on preview: i was going to say that dobbs comment seemed pointless, but then it struck me that it would apply nicely to someone i know. i don't think it applies to me, which either means i'm missing something, or there's a whole new level of angry i've not experienced. that must be quite annoyed indeed.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:11 PM on September 28, 2004

posted by adampsyche at 1:28 PM on September 28, 2004

Well, bendy, that depends. If it's a serious kind of anger at something done to me that was within their control, I keep a mental list. If you're on the list and I meet you again, and you need any kind of help, you'll end up with the opposite (no, not the punch in the face type of thing, more the passive agressive kind of thing). It's happened before and it'll happen again. Of course, there's times I feel terrible about that mental list, like people on it that die of natural causes early in life. Partly because I didn't get to piss them off first, and partly because I realize how stupid and petty a person I can be.

That list is really short. Like 2 or 3 names short. I try not to let it chew at me, because bitter people are horrible people. But you can't just forget the past.

Otherwise, I pout on it for a day or two and then get on with life.

Over time, in life, people get on the list and drop off. Sometimes they drop off because their actions against me turned out to benefit me greatly. For example, we had opened a bank account, gotten cheques ready, and many other things, at our expense, only to have the prospective landlord that had secured a business property for us back out for a customer that looked juicier. In the end that worked out really well for us, because we found a MUCH better location, and the place that landlord rented to seems pretty much out of business now.

In fact, things like that in life put you on my surprise tongue in cheek gift list instead. For example, when that place goes out of business, I'll be offering that landlord 20% off our products personally. >:-D
posted by shepd at 1:32 PM on September 28, 2004

If it's anger at a person, I try to get in their head and figure out why they're acting the way they are. It may not make me respect them any more, but it usually takes care of the anger.
posted by callmejay at 1:39 PM on September 28, 2004

source of much consternation: thinking u have any control --

focus on what you can control
really enjoy that last thin mint in the box
break ugly things u own for no good reason in a place u don't have to clean

of course, a single hit of good pot works for me to derail anger and get back far enough to get some perspective-- if i couldn't stop thinking about all the things i have no means to help or remedy, etthththththkkkkkk--

we are talking about the anger and not the thing, right? because once u've gotten to anger, u've already lost the upperhand
posted by ethylene at 1:44 PM on September 28, 2004 [1 favorite]

dobbs - that book looks interesting, and that's basically what I'm looking for - new ways to approach anger that allow me to put it behind me.

adampsyche - I've tried it with drugs, now I want to try it without.

andrew cooke - I'm thinking the unsent poem/semi-anonymous blog entry is valuable. If my poems crack me up, then it helps distract from the negativity. Next I'm going to try a limerick!

shepd - Hmm. A grudge list is kind of what I want to avoid, it's more the getting on with life that's interesting to me.

Thanks all!
posted by bendy at 1:45 PM on September 28, 2004

For certain people (and their actions) I've planned out mixtapes that I never actually recorded. Kinda like the unsent poems, just not in my own words. "I Am the Resurrection" says it so much better than I ever could, anyway. As does "Shitlist" by L7. Oh! or "The Freed Pig" by Sebadoh. Or "Mistakes & Regrets" by the Trail o' Dead....I'll stop now.

Also, I do have a guitar, and sometimes making an unreasonable disorganized racket on it helps sometimes. It would help much more if I had a larger amp. And a hollow-body guitar.

I'm obviously just talkin' venting here--not solving the actual problem.
posted by LionIndex at 2:02 PM on September 28, 2004

Good luck with this bendy! If you can avoid the list, that's a good thing!
posted by shepd at 2:03 PM on September 28, 2004

here's perhaps a more helpful suggestion, although it kind of sucks from a personal-politics point of view (in my opinion). i'll explain my particular case, but you can hopefully find parallels with your own. i live in a country which has a different culture, in some ways, to what i'm accustomed to. some (generally small) things i find deeply annoying. over time, this really builds up - real, deep anger. and while that's happening, i'm aware of the process - i keep trying to understand it, and rationalize it, and see things their way. because, of course, these are purely arbitrary differences. chileans do something one way, in general, and i'm used to another. no-one is better or worse, this is purely social conditioning etc etc.

i think all that stuff. and sometimes it's just not enough.

and then i lose my temper with some poor unsuspecting person (or, if she's unlucky, my partner) who was probably doing nothing more than lying to me presenting things in an optimistic and friendly way - and i start shouting in uninteligable spanish, about how they're all fucking morons, and waving my arms around, and possibly crying, etc etc. i look really stupid and it's horrendously embarassing afterwards and people look at me like i'm absolutely crazy.

but it sure releases the pressure.

(or maybe that's what you're trying to avoid...)
(maybe what i'm trying to say is that sometimes expressing your anger isn't that bad. obviously you need to take care you don't hurt someone - not just physically, but emotionally - but it sometimes seems like the world would be a saner place if people just blew off their steam once in a while)
posted by andrew cooke at 2:43 PM on September 28, 2004

"Expectations create frustrations."

IOW, it's your expectations for "how things should be" that cause the problem. Yes, yes, I'm sure your expectations are perfectly reasonable and all that -- but reality ain't jiving with your expectations, so something has gotta change.

I suggest that changing reality is a little more difficult than changing your expectations.

Also, communication is the key to having a better chance of your expectations being satisfied.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:59 PM on September 28, 2004

A punching bag is a great release. Really.
posted by Shane at 6:39 PM on September 28, 2004

There are probably a thousand ways the situation could have turned out better.

There are an inordinate number of ways the situation could have been much, much worse.
posted by LimePi at 8:22 PM on September 28, 2004

Join the military.

A drastic solution, admittedly. But hear me out: You spend so much time being utterly out of control of your own life, that sooner or later you develop this "meh..." approach to this kind of thing. I was talking about this the other night with a friend (me Navy, him Army), and we both agreed that our laid back approach to this kind of thing came from years and years of being told to do incomprehensible things for no apparent reason. You just sort of surrender to the moment, and wait for a time when control will come back to you. (note to the pragmatic - these days joining the Navy is the best deal for not getting shot at).

Or, if you are a strong Type A personality, your head might explode.
posted by Irontom at 4:49 AM on September 29, 2004 [1 favorite]

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